The region has suffered for years from annual bouts of smog caused by slash-and-burn practices in Indonesia's Sumatra and Kalimantan islands, but governments in the region have failed to address the problem.
Why do the outbreaks happen and when did they start?
Who is affected by the haze?
How bad is it this year?
|AQI||Air Pollution Level||Health Implications|
|0 - 50||Good||Air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk|
|51 -100||Moderate||Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.|
|101-150||Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups||Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is not likely to be affected.|
|151-200||Unhealthy||Everyone may begin to experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects|
|201-300||Very Unhealthy||Health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.|
|300+||Hazardous||Health alert: everyone may experience more serious health effects|
|0 - 25||Low||Not expected.|
|26 - 50||Medium||Not expected for the general population.|
|51 - 100||High||Acute health effects are not expected but chronic effects may be observed if one is persistently exposed to such levels.|
|101 - 200||Very High||People with existing heart or respiratory illnesses may notice mild aggravation of their health conditions. Generally healthy individuals may also notice some discomfort.|
|201 - 500||Severe||People with existing heart or respiratory illnesses may experience significant aggravation of their symptoms. There may also be widespread symptoms in the healthy population (e.g. eye irritation, wheezing, coughing, phlegm and sore throats).|
|0 - 50||Good|
|51 - 100||Moderate|
|101 - 200||Unhealthy|
|201 - 300||Very unhealthy|
During 2013 ,More than 600 schools in Johor located in several areas where the Air Pollution Index (API) readings had exceeded the hazardous point of 300 were forced to close , meanwhile, schools in areas with API readings exceeding 150 were advised to avoid outdoor activities
Risks to people from the haze
So how does haze hurt the body? What medical specialist say..
During inhalation, particles and chemicals irritate the nose, which secretes mucus to flush out the particles. As more mucus is produced, the nasal passage becomes blocked and the nose swells. The reaction is magnified in
people who have allergic rhinitis, If the symptoms become too severe, they can take antihistamines.
Airways and lungsThe particles may inflame the airways and the lungs as they travel downwards. The airways and lungs produce phlegm to try to get rid of the particles. The airways spasm to provoke a cough to expel the foreign matter. As phlegm narrows the
airways, more phlegm is produced, creating a vicious circle. Even people without chronic respiratory problems can suffer from breathlessness, he said.
Heart With the nose and airways inflamed, the body is under stress and the heart pumps faster, increasing the blood pressure. The body also releases chemicals that make blood clot more easily. Higher blood pressure and the formation of blood clots can cause a heart attack, stroke or heart failure in those who have coronary heart disease or whose hearts are already beginning to fail,
The particles and chemicals can cause burning sensations, irritate the eye into tearing to clean itself and inflame the
conjunctiva, the surface layer on the white of the eyeball. Those with a history of dry, sensitive eyes and allergic conjunctivitis are most at risk,The inflammation of the conjunctiva worsens dry eyes and adds to existing inflammation from allergic conjunctivitis, she said. Avoid wearing contact lenses and put on wrap-around glasses. Use preservative-free lubricants every hour to remove allergens. Any eye swelling can be reduced by placing a warm towel over the eyes for a minute or two. If the symptoms worsen or become severe, see an ophthalmologist, who may prescribe medications such as
The haze should have little effect on healthy skin,. But those with eczema – “asthma of the skin” – may find it becoming itchy and inflamed, he said. Using moisturiser three to four times a day can help protect the skin.
People with chronic diseases, especially serious ones such as heart and lung diseases, should stay indoors and avoid physical activity outdoors when the API hits about 100, doctors advised. Healthy people should do so when the API exceeds 200 and crosses into the unhealthy range, they said. If they have to go out, they may wish to wear surgical masks, but these may not block fine particles which can still wreak havoc on the body.
Children are more vulnerable as they breathe faster, have a higher metabolic rate and have lungs that are still developing,
- They play outdoors;
- They have faster breathing rates;
- Their lungs are still developing; and
- Their lungs are more sensitive.
- Those who experience diseases like cough, flu, asthma, sore eyes, heart disease or chronic lung diseases should go to the clinic immediately if the disease conditions worsen.
- Those who are in high risk group should always take medicine as advised.
- Nasal mask should be used by all motorcyclists, those who work outside building or in dusty places and those who are in the high risk group.
- Smokers who have small child, old parents and diseased relatives must not smoke in the house.
- The public are advice to stay inside their home and building as far as they can.
- Lessen sports activity outside home.
- Always wash their face and skin areas exposed to haze with clean water.
- If your vehicle is air-conditioned, please use it.
- Always drink a lot of water.
- Smoker is advised not to smoke when air situation is unhealthy (API exceeded 100).
- Those in high risk group are advised to take leave outside the hazy area if the hazy condition continues at a dangerous level at their area.